Sunday, August 12, 2012

Novus Ordo

Being so blessed as to be able to attend the Latin Mass every Sunday, there are times that we are forced to attend the Novus Ordo Mass. Now, lest anyone think otherwise, I am not one of those who believes the N.O. is not a legitimate Mass. But every time I attend one, there are so many things that make me profoundly sad. The lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, the chatter during the Eucharist, the lack of opportunity for personal prayer - all of these truly break my heart. But there are a few things that I hope change very soon.

1. Please put the tabernacle back where it belongs - front and center of the altar.
Why is Jesus, our Lord and Savior, relegated to the corner of the altar? In some parishes, it is almost impossible to find. Why are we genuflecting to the altar if He is not present? I venture to guess that many Catholics don't even know what the tabernacle is or what it contains.
 In other words, notice the difference?




2. The sign of peace.

This part of the Mass is completely at the discretion of the priest, and I hope it will gradually fade away. Why you ask? Because contrary to popular belief, the Mass is not where we go to feel good about ourselves. We adore the Lord, we thank Him, we ask Him forgiveness and mercy, we worship Him, and we receive Him in the most Blessed Sacrament. The sign of peace is an unnecessary act designed to make us feel part of the Mass, but all it does is create great disruption and take away the focus from the fact that the Lord is on the altar, where we will go to receive Him with great reverence and awe. This should be a time of deep prayer and personal contemplation, not handshakes, backslaps and small talk. I always try to sit in the back row of a Novus Ordo mass because I refuse to turn my back on my Lord, present on the altar.

3. Bring back the altar rail!

I honestly can't say enough about the importance of bringing back the reverence for the Eucharist. How terrible it is to see people talking and laughing their way up the aisle, taking our Lord in their hands, and then rushing out the back of the Church. What a sacrilege! I have even seen people reach in to grab a host and then shove it in their mouth like last night's cupcake. Why do the bishops not put a stop to this? The altar rail forces one to receive kneeling, and on the tongue, and perhaps can bring some dignity back to the free-for-all one sees at so many masses.

4. Get the band off the altar.

Folk music, guitar music, praise and worship bands - I've seen and heard it all. This unfortunate custom also comes out of the "entertain me so I feel a part of it all" mentality that has pervaded many parishes. It doesn't matter how lovely the music is, it doesn't belong on the altar. Ever. It belongs in the choir loft.

I certainly don't expect N.O. parishes to start incorporating Gregorian chant, although I hope someday they do, but certainly a sense of the sacred should be maintained with all music chosen for the Mass.


5. Quiet prayer at the end of mass? I don't think so.

I've yet to attend a N.O. mass where it is at all possible to pray after the recessional hymn. It seems as though as soon as the priest leaves the Church, that is the cue to either stampede out or start talking loudly. Why is that? Why not wait until you leave the Church to start chatting and laughing? Or even better, eliminate the recessional altogether. That way those who would like to pray after mass can pray, and those that want to chat can head out of the Church.


I hope I don't sound picky or snobby, in this day and age of generations of poorly catechized Catholics, I believe a return to the sense of the sacredness of the Mass will bring many people back to their faith, and will lead others to want to learn more about it. And let's face it, Jesus deserves the best of us, especially at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

5 comments:

  1. I agree with the need for return to the sense of the sacredness for the Mass. Some of what I see turns my stomach when it comes to the disrespect.

    With that said, I'd like to offer the following thoughts. It isn't the "Novus Ordo" Mass that's the problem- it's catechesis, or lack there of.

    For starters, I'm not a fan of the term Novus Ordo. The pope refers to it as the "Ordinary Form" and what used to be known as the Tridentine Mass is now the "Extraordinary Form." I've been trying to get the term RMIII (3rd Ed of the Roman Missal) popularized with no avail. I'm hoping this doesn't label me as a liberal modernist...most people consider me pretty conservative when it comes to the liturgy.

    In response to your list:

    "Put the tabernacle where it belongs." I agree, it's weird to have it off to the side. Either put it in the center, or have a reservation chapel like at St Peter's Basilica. I think it's important to emphasize though why the tabernacle was moved- it is the same reason why the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) wants it empty on Holy Thursday. It's because Eucharist is a verb before it is a noun. We are obligated to come to church on Sundays to share in the action of the Eucharist, not necessarily it's reservation.

    For the Sign of Peace. I think we get a little too carried away, but I'm not a fan of omitting it. The point of the sign of peace is that Christ is now present on the altar, and we then share some physical sign of that to each other. So let's lose the slaps on the back and various other unnecessary frivolities, and express Christ's peace to each other, as the liturgy calls us to do.

    I don't think an altar rail will fix the problem. There are still plenty of parishes with them. You can still have the liturgical faux pas and still have a communion rail. I tend to like them myself, especially if they are ornate.

    "Get the band off the altar." Not sure about this one. Historically speaking, when the organ was first introduced into the liturgy, it was pretty scandalous and people hated it for years. Now in modern times, it has pride of place in the church. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of folk music, but it is possible to make every musical instrument a way of expressing God's grace (except for maybe the cow bell).

    I completely agree with you on the recessional and socializing afterward. The GIRM doesn't even ask for a recessional. It also doesn't ask for socializing afterwards either.

    In my opinion, the bottom line is that there is familiarity and reverence when it comes to God. You have to have both. Our problem is we have the familiarity part down without any of the reverence. That's where the catechesis has to come in.

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  2. Thanks for your thoughts! I use the term N.O. simply because I think it differentiates it from the Latin Mass, since there is the Low Mass and the High Mass, et cetera.

    I agree good catechesis is a huge part of the problem, but unfortunately the "CCD" programs in most parishes are sorely lacking in Catechism and filled with fluff. And since most children are only there for an hour a week and they aren't getting it at home, sometimes I despair that they will ever learn their faith.

    I do see your point, but I will never sign onto the guitar/band on the altar. It's just one of my pet peeves. Along with flip-flops, shorts, and other Jesus-doesn't-care-what-I-wear attire. But that's a whole other post:)

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    1. The "Jesus-doesn't-care-what-I-wear attire" was going to be my next blog post! Neat little coincidence there. It's almost done, should have it out by next weekend.

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  3. OK, so as a recovering Catholic who ony goes to church under duress I have a few thoughts...

    First- I actually 100% agree with everything you are saying. *IF* I chose to go to church, I would be going for the Ceremony and what it means and my connection to God/Jesus. The fact that is is now a big ol' party is rediculous. The reason I believe it is now a big ol' party is because the Church has realized that in order to keep people coming and following a pretty outdated religion/set of rules, they need to make it a party. And in this day and age, in order to keep anyone's attention, you need it to be quick, entertaining, and social.

    In my chosen practice of Spirituality (which is not Catholicism), the Ceremony is serious, you come dressed appropriately, you come with the mindset of reverence for your Higher Power, you come to PRAY, not have social hour, and songs sung are very specific to the Ceremony and are basically prayer set to music. Social hour is AFTER, away from Ceremony and when ALL are done with their prayer. If I were still a practicing Catholic, I would want what you are after as well. But, no one is taught that there is something to be said for the Ceremony, the prayer and the seriousness and respect that comes with being devout in your practice and worship. Perhaps that is why the world(this country) has come to the place it has...

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  4. I wish I was as lucky as you. I have to get picked up to go to a SSPX Mass. I rather it was FSSP, but none of them as close and easy to get to. I wish my local parish would have the Latin Mass.

    I do also agree with all your points. In my Novus Ordo their isn't a band. But I can only go to the the N.O. then I need to go back to the Latin Mass.

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